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A Quiz about Fear

Quick link: 10 Dangerous Things for Kids and One True Danger, a Quiz, at A Life Overseas

I recently heard an interview with Kim Brooks, the author of Small Animals, parenthood in the age of fear, and was reminded of how irrational fear can be. Understandably so, but still, in an age of fear and also judgment and rage, parenting can feel fraught with risk.

I had written this quiz several years ago, but found it again in my drafts and pulled it out to publish now. What are we generally afraid of? What should we actually fear (if anything?)

A quiz:

  1. Are Americans more at risk of dying by terrorist or dying by an appliance falling on us?

Death by appliance.

  1. Is a predator more likely to attack a child walking home from the playground alone or to attack a child playing in the home?

Child playing at home.

  1. Does a child face more of a health risk while climbing a tree or while staring at an iPad?

Staring at an iPad.

Click here to continue with the quiz and to read my conclusion: 10 Dangerous Things for Kids and One True Danger, a Quiz, at A Life Overseas

Not All Moms Cry at University Drop-Offs

Last week I dropped my oldest child off at University.

Said goodbye.

The next day I sent my husband and my youngest child back to Djibouti.

Said goodbye.

Yesterday I drove my second firstborn (twins) to a different University.

Said goodbye.

Now it is just me, in my parent’s basement (so see, kids never really move out), for a few months as the twins transition to university life in this foreign country called the United States of America.

Now, I’m asking the questions all parents of recent university students ask:

What just happened to my life?

What just happened to my family?

How am I doing?

***

How am I doing?

I don’t even now how to begin answering.

Okay. Not okay. Emotions are layered, shifty things.

I thought for sure I would be one of the moms who cries as she walks out of the dorm room or who sits in the parking lot of the university waiting for the tears to clear enough so I could drive away, away, away.

But guess what?

I wasn’t that mom.

I didn’t end up crying in the car in the parking lot or the dorm stairwell. Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. I had a pocket full of Kleenex, totally expected that to be me.

Maybe my tears are used up. Maybe it hasn’t quite hit me yet. Maybe we are more used to the separation. Maybe my house doesn’t feel empty yet because I’m not yet in my house that no longer holds their memorabilia and stuffed animals. Maybe it will strike me most when they come to Djibouti but they will not be able to enter the country on our family work permit but will have to apply for a tourist visa.

I’m not going to feel guilty about the lack of tears. So many articles about moms sending kids to college include this flow of emotion and believe me, emotions have flowed. They just didn’t flow in that moment.

I’m okay with that.

I’m owning my excitement for my kids and their new adventure.

I’m prepared for the day when the ache strikes and I cry. Or not.

I’m expecting to cry on the plane in January when I go back to Africa. Or not.

So much of parenting comes with pressure to do certain things, make certain choices. We can be judgmental to the point of cruelty toward other parents.

The ones who cry? Weak, mushy, unprepared, overly emotional, too attached.

The ones who don’t cry? Cold, pushing the kid out, unloving, distant.

I call bull-oney on all that. I’m done with “supposed to” and “should”. I faced enough of that in our decision to send the kids to boarding school, or way back to when we moved to Somaliland in 2003. Faced enough of it when I gave birth in Djibouti, when I used disposable diapers, when I breastfed or pumped or bottle-fed, when I just wanted to get to the end of the day with everyone mostly fed and mostly clean.

What “should” parenting look like? What choices am I “supposed to” make for my family? What “should” I be feeling in this moment?

I have no clue.

I’m deciding what we decided.

I’m feeling what I’m feeling.

Cry on, moms who cry. Don’t cry at all, moms who don’t.

(I’m a pre-griever, more about that later)

Did you cry at drop-off? Do you think you will? Know you won’t?

 

Rethinking, Rebuilding. Love in International Service, a book excerpt

Today I bring you an excerpt from Ryan Kuja’s new book: From the Inside Out. I resonated strongly with his words on wholeness. The world is broken and we are broken. I don’t even have to look outside my own mind and heart to recognize the need for healing and restoration and that reality is amplified as soon as I lift my eyes up to the broader world. What can promote and facilitate healing? Love. Unity. Integration belief and action. Peace.

If you enjoy this excerpt and would like to read more, you can find Ryan’s book here and his website with links to more of his published work here.

Book Excerpt- Chapter 5

Making All Things Whole through Love

“Those who follow Jesus,” wrote Franciscan sister and professor Ilia Delio, “are to become wholemakers, uniting what is scattered, creating a deeper unity in love.” The deepest call of Jesus followers is to be wholemakers— acting in ways that bring about the wholeness that underlies the fabric of the cosmos. We seem separate but in our roots we are part of an indivisible whole. There is an integral connectivity that links us. If this is how reality is construed—through a substrate of love, a fabric of connection and deep unity—than participating in mission as if this were true means looking at our task differently, through the lens of the hidden wholeness that exists in Christ prior to and beneath all things. Jesus followers are tasked with intentionally participating in completing the world; mission is nothing less than action toward the fulfillment of the cosmos itself.

The reconciliation of all things is not only a possibility, human flourishing is not only an idea, shalom not a mere word to be adopted, but realities ingrained in the fabric of creation itself.

Placing ourselves in alignment with the shape of God and thus the shape of the universe itself so that we may be conduits of shalom means bringing together the inner and the outer. It means reintegrating contemplation and action. Our logical Western-trained minds say prayer and work, spirituality and ministry are distinct, autonomous aspects of life, but that is a fairly new invention based on Western philosophy and Greek metaphysics, based on the thought of Descartes and Plato more than Paul and Jesus.

What would happen if we began to reimagine mission as relationship in which we recreate each other through a deep mutuality? Participating in the ongoing creation of the world through mending and being mended, healing and being healed, becoming wholemakers as we are being made whole?

This missional spirituality is radically grounded in materiality while simultaneously oriented toward a cosmological horizon that is coming to us from the future, a future in which “Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:11). We experience a foretaste of that eschatological future in the present. From the very heart of reality itself, from within the messes, the brokenness, and the tragedy, Christ redeems, restores, reanimates, and resurrects. The world is being reconstituted, day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath, to reflect the new reality which Jesus referred to as the kingdom of God. It is all heading into renewal.

Every act of peace, each move toward courage, every act of selfless love is an act of new creation, small and often unnoticed perhaps, but powerful nonetheless as it is a participation in God’s being. In this way we don’t merely believe in God, worship God, or work for God, but we participate in God’s life.

(I confess that I have not read the entire book yet, but after I read the excerpt Ryan sent me, the book jumped to the top of my list. If you have read it, share your thoughts in the comments or over on Facebook.)

A global citizen with a background in international mission, relief, and development, Ryan Kuja has lived in fifteen cities and rural villages on five continents. He holds an M.A. in Theology and Culture from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology as well a Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. A spiritual director and writer, he has written for Sojourners, Missio Alliance and several theological journals. His first book, From the Inside Out: Reimagning Mission, Recreating the World, released in June 2018. Ryan is currently serving as the Field Director of Word Made Flesh in Medellin, Colombia. You can find him online at ryankuja.com and on twitter as @ryankuja.

*post contains affiliate links

Good Things, the Fourteenth. August, 2018

Taking note of one good thing every day.

1 chicken tortilla soup for a friend

2 4-mile tempo run along the lake, beneath gray cloudy skies, around fields of sunflowers

3 Swedish Fish by the handful

4 graduation open houses and being asked if I am the graduate

5 the most incredible quilts, a lifetime of memory and beauty sewn by grandma

6 sushi by Lake Superior

7 visiting the coolest physical therapist office in Ashland, WI, owned by childhood friends

8 the Apostle Islands, jumping into freezing water, and a hike through the woods

9 thrift store day with my three kids

10 a listening ear, a caring heart

11 blueberries

12 fireflies over cornfields in the hills of southern Minnesota

13 a long bike ride with my husband, along an old railway line

14 watching my kids wakeboard like pros

15 caught in the rain at the end of a long run

16 racquetball game in which I hit the ball, most of the time

17 farm days

18 a gathering of women writers in Minnesota

19 being blessed by strangers

20 Jones family tradition of lunch at Old Chicago, full of laughter and good conversation. I just love spending time with my people.

21 one child, launched

22 exploring a new city with my husband and our youngest who still runs to play on playgrounds

23 best Dairy Queen ever, extra large sizes, dilly bars with ice cream cones on top, one of a kind in Eau Claire, WI

24 being the newbie dork at the fitness club who has never used a stair master and stumbling off it and laughing at myself instead of feeling embarrassed

25 big bacon on a stick (can you guess where I ate that in Minnesota at the end of August?)

26 bike ride through the park on one of the last sunny, warm days of summer

27 Italian fagioli soup at Open Book, downtown Minneapolis

28 manuscript editing in front of a fireplace on a gray, rainy day

29 hot-tubbing

30 all you can eat fresh stir-fry

31 one kid home for the weekend, the other packing to launch

By |September 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |1 Comment

The Bookshelf, August 2018

(post contains affiliate links)

This month I’m sharing books both my dad and I have loved and one he recommends, which I have not yet read, but its on my to-read list, once he finishes.

Made for These Times, by Justin Zoradi, a book about doing work that matters (fun fact: my brother-in-law is mentioned by name in this book).

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. An inspiring, historical sports story about the Olympics held in Germany before World War II and the US rowing team.

Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle. Excuse the multiple mentions in the past few months of this book. I bring it up again because of how deeply it impacted my dad. He stopped every chapter or so to wipe his eyes and read several paragraphs to my mom and I. It is a book that will change the way readers live and love.

The Day the Revolution Began by NT Wright. This had been on my to-read list but my library didn’t have it. Turns out, my dad has it and had filled it up with notes and thoughts. It is taking me a while to get through because I’m reading both the actual book and his notes.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I love all of Larson’s work. This book is about the Chicago World’s Fair and an unsettling series of murders.

 

And here are the books I read this month.

Out of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey. It is about time. Finally, got my hands on this book and I love it. I love how she makes loving Jesus so beautiful, even in the middle of great, big questions.

The past few months have been rough for me and these words carried me through a challenging moment in the middle of August. I took Sarah’s words out of context and pasted them over my own wilderness. They birthed a sliver of hope, a hope I desperately needed and am still clinging to:

Set out pilgrim. Set out into the freedom and the wandering. Find your people. God is much bigger, wilder, more generous, and more wonderful than you imagined. On the other side of your wilderness, you may even find yourself reclaiming it all – the tradition, the habits, the language. You may be surprised someday to find yourself right back where you began, but with new eyes, a new heart, a new mind, a new life, and a wry smile. Now, instead of being whatever label you preferred, perhaps you can simply be a disciple, a pilgrim, out on the Way, following in the footsteps of the man from Nazareth. You aren’t condemned to wander forever. Remember now: after the wilderness comes deliverance.

Essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less, by Greg McKeown. This is a helpful, challenging read, especially for Enneagram 3’s, which (coming clean), I believe I am. Making choices, cutting back, saying no. You know, easy stuff, like that.

You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. Mostly, I read this because it was available from my library and I’ve been on the waiting list for her other book: You’re a Badass, for so stinking long. I thought it might be a kind of preview, but it was also really interesting. (I’m not great at making money, hence, I read the book. I’m still not, but maybe I’m less scared of talking about money. Maybe.)

Grounded, by Diana Butler Bass, about finding God in nature, in humankind, in our daily mundane and average, stunning lives.

Two Hours, by Ed Caesar, about the work of trying to break two hours in the marathon (written before Nike’s attempt this past spring)

What are you reading?